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Thought for the Day: Leniences of Shabbos That May Not Apply to Yom Kippur

As recently discussed, "ein bein yom ha'kippurim l'shabbos eleh zeh b'kares v'zeh b's'kilah"/there is no difference between Yom Kippur and Shabbos except that [violating] this one results in spiritual and eternal excommunication, whereas [violating] this one (Shabbos) results in execution (a cost of a mere 70 or 80 years of this world, rarely more; which is really much worse than it sounds, but that's for another time, the Good Lord Willing).  On the other hand, we have another statement from Chazal that anything that is permitted on Shabbos is also permitted on Yom Kippur; hmm... what about, oh I don't know... hmm.... eating?

Of course, as with many, many statements from our sages, they are absolutely true (True, even) in the appropriate context.  Chazal use this way of transmitting information to us in order to force us to think.  The exercise of thinking in and of itself is extraordinarily beneficial.  That turns every statement from our sages into an opportunity to pick up both Torah knowledge and philosophy; besides keeping out the riffraff.

Every holiday has it's special character.  Pesach has matzah and the seder.  Sukkos has lulav and sukkah.  Shavu'os has cheese cake.  Rosh HaShana has the shofar.  Yom Kippur has its inyu'im/afflicitions; ie, no eating nor drinking, no leather shoes, no washing (for pleasure), no anointing (for pleasure), and no marital relations.  Aside from those special halachos, however, anything permitted on Shabbos is certainly permitted on Yom Kippur.  Take borer/selection, for example.  Any situation where the selection process is permitted on Shabbos (for immediate use, by hand, and good from the bad), will also surely be permitted on Yom Kippur.

Now's where it gets fun.  Suppose one's eye hurts on Shabbos.  Not in danger of losing the eye and not a pain that extends to the whole body; just itchy/scratchy/tired eyes.  Normally, to treat something that just hurts a bit is forbidden on Shabbos.  Taking aspirin on Shabbos for a mild headache, for example, is not permitted by rabbinic decree.  However, if the treatment looks like something that even healthy people do, then it is permitted.  If one has a sore throat, he may not gargle with vinegar, but he can dip bread in vinegar and eat that; if some vinegar goes down his throat and offers some solace, so be it.  (That is not getting around the halacha, that's the way the decree was promulgated.)

Back to our sore eyes.  Healthy people do wash their eyes, so it is permitted on Shabbos to wash his hurting eyes.  What about Yom Kippur?  Do we say, whatever is permitted on Shabbos is permitted on Yom Kippur, so yes.  Or do we say, well... since washing for pleasure is forbidden on Yom Kippur, so healthy people will certainly not be washing their eyes, so if you wash your hurting eyes on Yom Kippur it will be obvious you are doing it for healing... and therefore forbidden?  Said another way: Do we go by the conclusion or the process that lead to the conclusion?

It's a trick question: there are poskim on both sides.  The Mishna Brura (Siman 614, Sha'ar HaTziyun sk 13) says we follow the process and you are not permitted to wash your (mildly) sore eyes on Yom Kippur.  Others disagree; see Dirshu Mishna Brura on that siman, paragraphs 19 and 20.


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